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Writing a Personal Statement on your Solicitor CV

Written by: Corinne Mills, Personal Career Management
Published on: 26 Jun 2014

Personal Statement

  • Recruiters tend to scan and dismiss CVs very quickly so you need to convince them within the first half page of your CV that you have the relevant skills and experience for the Solicitor role you are applying to, otherwise they’re unlikely to read on. One of the best ways to make that initial positive impact is to write a compelling personal statement/profile. This is a short, sharp and succinct 3-5 sentence paragraph positioned just below your contact details on the first page of your CV which acts like a mini-advertisement to grab their attention and highlight your relevant capabilities.

    So, what should you put in your personal statement?

  • Job Title

    It’s important to label yourself with a title that is specific to the job you are applying for. For instance, instead of calling yourself a ‘Solicitor’, label yourself as ‘Commercial Property Solicitor’, or ‘Insolvency Solicitor’ to reflect exactly what they are looking for. Of course you can only call yourself this if you have practical experience in the relevant area but it enables them to see right away that you have the background that is needed for the solicitor jobs you are applying for.

  • PQE Experience

    Mention how many years of post-qualified experience (PQE) you have or your current stage of training, as this will tell them at a glance whether your experience level is likely to be sufficient for their needs. If the role or organisation asks for particular expertise or knowledge eg understanding of the retail sector, dealing with global businesses or working with corporate HR teams, then make sure that this experience is mentioned in your personal profile e.g. “Extensive experience of advising corporate HR teams on wide ranging legal matters from policy development, settlement agreements to handling Trade Union disputes”. If you’re applying for a management role ensure that you include previous people management experience, budget management responsibilities and any executive level accountabilities to reinforce the seniority of your role.

  • Value You Have to Offer

    Demonstrate the value you can bring to the organisation you’re applying to by including something in your personal profile which illustrates that your career to date has been successful. This might be a mention about the fees you’ve brought in, new clients you've introduced, your ability to resolve difficult conflicts or identify commercial opportunities. In addition, if you have been nominated for any awards, met or exceeded particular performance targets, generated useful ideas which improved the business then mention these too e.g. “Developed innovative ways to introduce new business such as using social media”. If you mention them briefly in the profile you can always expand on them later on in your CV .

  • Personal Qualities

    Employers like to have a sense of what you are like as a person but always back up any claims about your personal qualities with evidence e.g. “strong communication skills including giving regular presentations to audiences ranging from 10 – 100 people both in-house and at industry events.” Make reference to personal qualities that they say they are looking for rather than those which you think are important. There is no point emphasising your strategic visioning abilities if they say they want someone who is detail orientated.

  • Taking the Next Step

    In summary, your personal statement should address all the areas that the recruiter will be considering in relation to their selection criteria for the job. Be prepared to craft a few different versions of your personal profile before you find the one that most adequately reflects you and the type of Solicitor job you are pursuing. It’s worth the effort because if you get this right, then you increase the likelihood of your application being read thoroughly and subsequently shortlisted rather than discarded.

    There is more help available via the TotallyLegal Careers Blog where you can learn how to become a solicitor, get cv advice for NQ solicitors, and even get assistance in optimising your legal CV.

    If you are ready to take your next step then you can find the latest solicitor jobs on TotallyLegal today.